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Michael Wood

17 October 1996
The Last Don 
by Mario Puzo.
Heinemann, 482 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 0 434 60498 4
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... We were the last romantics,’ Yeats said, but he spoke too soon. We might feel the same about the situation proposed by the title of MarioPuzo’s new novel, now sitting comfortably at number four in the New York Times bestseller list. Don Domenico Clericuzio, the ageing mobster grandee in this book, is said to have led his family to ‘the ...

Comedy is murder

Thomas Powers: Joseph Heller

8 March 2012
Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller 
by Tracy Daugherty.
Robson, 548 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84954 172 5
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Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller was Dad and Life was a Catch-22 
by Erica Heller.
Vintage, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2011, 978 0 09 957008 0
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... drinking and schmoozing buddies. Among them were Mel Brooks, who built his career on the principle that tragedy is hard, but comedy is murder; Bruce Jay Friedman, who wrote novels, plays and movies; MarioPuzo, who made a fortune with his novel The Godfather; and Speed Vogel, who resists summary. Heller’s wife Shirley in her youth had been a friend of Vogel’s sister on Manhattan’s Upper West ...
7 November 1985
Galapagos 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 269 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 224 02847 2
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A Family Madness 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 315 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 340 38449 2
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A Storm from Paradise 
by Stuart Hood.
Carcanet, 188 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 85635 582 8
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Samarkand 
by John Murray.
Aidan Ellis, 255 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 85628 151 4
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The Sicilian 
by Mario Puzo.
Bantam, 410 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 593 01001 9
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Putting the boot in 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 192 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 224 02332 2
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... But good as it is, one feels that Murray might be happier with the verse novel, if any publishers would countenance reviving the form. The Godfather has had prequels and sequels. In this latest work, Puzo supplies us with what may be called an interquel. The Sicilian returns to that part of the original narrative in which Michael Corleone found refuge in Sicily. We knew that the Don-apparent married ...

Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell

19 October 1995
The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... unless Doris Stokes can reach Jack the Hat on the Other Side (although, come to think of it, isn’t Doris on the Other Side herself now?). The Krays were gangsters, not thieves, and Damon Runyan and MarioPuzo have ensured that we are more interested in heavies than light-fingered chaps. Billy Hill and Jack Spot, the Fifties London gang leaders, have both had their memoirs ghosted but few of the big ...

Games-Playing

Patrick Parrinder

7 August 1986
The Golden Gate 
by Vikram Seth.
Faber, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13967 1
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The Haunted House 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 139 pp., £8.95, June 1986, 0 330 29175 0
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Whole of a Morning Sky 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 156 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 86068 774 0
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The Piano Tuner 
by Peter Meinke.
Georgia, 156 pp., $13.95, June 1986, 0 8203 0844 7
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Tap City 
by Ron Abell.
Secker, 273 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 436 00025 3
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... the other players, with the house taking a fixed percentage. It is all a bit like the Stock Exchange, or the Marxist view of the labour market. Beyond that, we do not get very far. The novelist MarioPuzo is quoted to the effect that people gamble in search of a lost childhood innocence and out of a desire to be happy; they call the other players’ bluffs in order the better to bluff themselves ...

Predatory Sex Aliens

Gary Indiana: Burroughs

7 May 2014
Call Me Burroughs: A Life 
by Barry Miles.
Twelve, 718 pp., £17, January 2014, 978 1 4555 1195 2
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... autobiographical writings are consistently, emphatically cautionary tales. (‘Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions – everything they do,’ he wrote in his final journals, quoting MarioPuzo. It was hardly a volte-face.) I have yet to discover a single account of Burroughs in which people who knew him fail to mention his impeccable manners, his kindness, his generosity; they ...
28 September 1989
The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... That he has a skin complaint is one of the few physical facts recorded about him. There are no clear photographs. He may no longer even be alive. Nevertheless, according to the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, Guzman is ‘the object of religious devotion’ to his Senderista followers and of holy terror to Peru’s middle classes. Nicholas Shakespeare’s fascination with Sendero Luminoso ...

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